Federal Court Halts Implementation of Florida Law Criminalizing Transport of Undocumented ‘IMMIGRANTS’


Farmworkers and human rights organizations suing the state of Florida over draconian immigration legislation that criminalizes the transportation of undocumented immigrants into the state are applauding the acts of a federal court that temporarily halted its implementation.

U.S. District Judge Roy Altman, appointed by Republican former President Donald Trump, suspended a provision of the law Wednesday awaiting the outcome of a case launched last summer by the Farmworker Association of Florida and other immigrant and civil rights organizations.

“This is a much-needed victory for Floridians.” “For far too long, our state has imposed a barrage of anti-immigrant laws and policies that harm citizens and noncitizens alike,” Amien Kacou, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and member of the legal team representing the farmworkers’ association in the lawsuit, said in a statement following the decision.

Florida’s strict immigration law, also known as SB 1718, was enacted by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis a year ago as he prepared to launch his now-failed presidential campaign. At the time, he made immigration the centerpiece of his campaign. The law, which went into effect on July 1, 2023, establishes limits and penalties aimed at discouraging the employment of undocumented immigrants in the state and makes it a criminal to “knowingly and willfully” convey an unauthorized immigrant into Florida.

In its announcement of the lawsuit in August, the ACLU said that “Section 10 has put thousands of Floridians and residents of other states — both citizens and noncitizens alike — at risk of being arrested, charged and prosecuted with a felony for transporting a vaguely defined category of immigrants into Florida, even for simple acts such as driving a family member to a doctor’s appointment or going on a family vacation.”

The law drove many undocumented workers in the agriculture, construction, and tourism industries to leave Florida, while leaving many others unsure if they should do the same. It even generated panic in immigrant communities, who feared the measure would limit their ability to seek shelter during Hurricane Idalia last August.

Previous implementation of the law resulted in arrests and human smuggling charges.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a defendant in the action, has argued in court documents that the plaintiffs lack legal standing to pursue the case, according to the Miami Herald.

However, Judge Altman ruled that the Florida statute “extends beyond the state’s authority to make arrests for violations of federal immigration law,” rendering it likely illegal, according to Reuters.

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